ON THE MOVE AGAIN
After a challenging summer semester in which the MBA International Management like all other study programs was forced to switch classes to online format only, the third semester MBA students could hardly wait for the start of the winter semester. Especially for the six new students from India, Nicaragua and Uzbekistan who started their studies in February, it was a tough summer with only virtual contact with their class mates and limited possibilities to get to know their new environment. Now, with the beginning of the winter semester the MBA batch finally reunited for the long awaited kick-off event: the semester’s company experience excursion.
Despite strict Covid-19 regulations, the students had the privilege to get a sneak peak of how things are done at Innoplexus and WIKA and learn virtually about ADM Wild´s business. Since the students missed out on a lot of non-virtual activities in the last semester the company visits were rounded off by an exciting accompanying program like taking a vineyard tour and a wine tasting at a local winery. The team also enjoyed some delicious Indian food one evening and visited the Eintracht Frankfurt Stadium and Museum.
The excursion started with a visit at Innoplexus AG in Eschborn near Frankfurt. Innoplexus is a software developer company working with Artificial Intelligence and Blockchain powered data analytics to help pharma and biotech industry gain real-time access to relevant data from drug discovery to commercialization. Everyone was welcomed by an opening session with the CEO, Dr. Gunjan Bhardwaj, an MBA Pforzheim alumnus of 2007 and Innoplexus’ CFO, Christian Bigata. Gunjan started the company with a purpose. Giving an analogy of how medicine can be like a religion where the priest, here the doctor, is the only connection to God, he explained how patients struggle to understand the language of medicine. He is very passionate about reducing this information asymmetry and that could be clearly seen when he spoke.
Since Innoplexus is strongly using blockchain technology in their products, the next session was with Mr. Simone Giacomelli, who vividly introduced the cohort to the fascinating world of blockchain and cryptocurrency. When one of the students said she thought she was too late to jump on to the cryptocurrency wagon, he convinced with great fervor why she is not. After many interesting conversations, he advised “think ahead in decades and then look back”.
Next, Mr Oliver Grünvogel gave the students a brief overview of some of the company´s core activities and revenue models. The insights about their typical operations on AI and blockchain projects and how much money and work goes into it, sparked a lot of curiosity from the students.
The final presentation was a deep dive into their novel app offering Curia. The app launched in June 2020 and aims to help share information about cancer treatment options and clinical tests. Ms. Chiara Thanner proudly spoke about how Innoplexus built this app and mentioned the very positive response it has received in the market so far.
After a quick lunch, the students got working on a workshop on the international expansion of the Curia app. To make it more exciting, the winning team would get a surprise gift. Two hours later, the 3 teams presented their findings, each for a respective continent, in front a panel of 3 judges. An intense Q&A and feedback session followed each presentation for the students to get even more from the assignment.
After a long day with many new and interesting insights and learnings the evening ended with a joint dinner in an Indian restaurant.
After a night at Aschaffenburg, the excursion continued at WIKA’s headquarter in Klingenberg. WIKA was founded in 1946 and continues to be leading globally as a provider of mechanical and temperature measurement devices and technology for all industrial fields. The to-be-CFO, Mr. Wolfgang Schneider, opened with the company presentation where he walked the students through WIKA’s journey right from its inception to where it currently stands. He also explained the importance of the KAIZEN philosophy in the company´s operations. With some of the following presentations, the students were able to find topics that had been covered in the first semester and were able to retrace what they had learned. The presentation on Corporate Logistics by Mr. Fabian Schüβler was one such session where students could engage based on their semester 1 course on Global Supply Chain Management and Sourcing.
It was surprising to learn how much WIKA invests in training and how the company is striving towards making same day deliveries possible in near future. Next, Mr. Tobias Hench briefly introduced the students to the core offerings and operations of his Process Instrumentation department. He was followed by Mr. Peter Ballweg, the Head of HR, who briefed the students about the opportunities presented to the sales teams and how they have changed their sales team processes in recent years with KAIZEN ideas. Mr. Ballweg emphasized that although WIKA is a big company everyone working there gets ample chances to be noticed and excel.
Last but not the least, an interesting presentation on WIKA’s IIOT products by Mr. Michael Heider gave a glimpse of how advanced WIKA offerings can be. WIKA’s future aspiration of becoming a platform as a service were also discussed to which the future CFO said that for WIKA one of the most interesting and important challenges is Digitalization. He said that "innovation management is also about failure and learning from it".
After the company visit the MBA students were introduced to the German winegrowing culture by visiting a local winery. After a tour through the vineyards and many interesting facts about wine and the related industry the students enjoyed a wine tasting to finish the day.
The next morning saw the MBA off to visit the Eintracht Frankfurt stadium. During a visit to the Eintracht museum the students learned about the history of the club and had a chance to see all the trophies and cups from the past before they went on a guided stadium tour.
While we would have loved hosting Mr. Frank Altrock in person at the Hochschule Pforzheim the next day, we sincerely appreciate his and his team’s resilience in making a virtual seminar possible at short notice. Mr. Altrock is the Managing Director of ADM Netherlands. ADM produces ingredients and preliminary products for the food industry and serves big clients like Unilever, McDonalds, Nestle, Starbucks, etc.
In this virtual session, Mr. Altrock walked the students through some of the business units and how they source their ingredients. After a brief company overview, he presented how the pandemic crisis has changed their business and operations. The presentation was backed by solid research and sparked many thought-provoking discussions related to product development, food safety and regulations, sustainability and ethical sourcing.
A special thanks to everyone at Innoplexus and WIKA for welcoming us despite the tough times and to ADM Wild for making the online session possible thus giving our MBA cohort the opportunity to learn a bit more about their industries and businesses.
Here are some words, two of our students had to say about the company excursion:
Gerrit Huwald “The excursion, full of inspiring insights from passionate leaders and decision-makers, was a huge success. My personal highlight was the strategic workshop at Innoplexus where we laid out a rudimentary market expansion strategy for Curia, their mobile app for cancer patients. A special thanks to the MBA team, for organizing this so greatly in such difficult times.”
Rohit Singh- “The visits to Innoplexus and WIKA were enriching in terms of learning. Even though the companies operate in completely different domains they are both trying to ride the wave of innovation and implement data driven, intelligent solutions for their clients. The companies also had commendable CSR ventures with Innoplexus’ free app Curia created to increase awareness about cancer and on other hand WIKA focusing on nurturing local and international talent via the WIKA academy and training facility."
text: Surel Surve, Class of 2021